Thursday, July 02, 2015

recommended gigs

Friday July 3 - the Vermin's last show ever at Triple B

Saturday July 4 - the Heiz at the Double Down with the Psyatics

Thursday July 9 - Psyatics at the Dive Bar

Friday July 10 - Tiki Bandits, Time Crashers, Super Zeros and Rude Kings at the Dive Bar

Friday July 10 - the All Togethers at the Bunkhouse
Friday July 10 - Time Crashers and Tiki Bandits at the Dive Bar

Saturday July 11 - the All Togethers at the Dillinger with Thomas Gardner Jr
Saturday July 11 - 3 Bad Jacks, the Legendary Boilermakers, Dead at Midnight at the Dive Bar

Tuesday July 14 - Psyatics at the Bunkhouse with Numb Bats and Pet Tigers

Friday July 17th the Peccadilloes at the Double Down

Sunday July 19 - Unwieldies at UNLV with Roy Zimmerman

Wednesday July 22 - Adolescents and Weirdos at the Triple B

Friday July 24 - The Association, Grass Roots, Buckinghams, Cowsills - Golden Nugget

Sunday August 9 - The Cry at the Bunkhouse

Friday Aug 21 - Motorhead at House of Blues

Saturday August 29 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Rolling Stones - Rock and Roll Circus

I'd be surprised if anyone reading this blog didn't already know about and own this bit of classic 60's
r'n'r history. The Stones attempted a circus-themed TV special with some of their r'n'r friends, but in the end, due to extremely late hours, decided that their own performance was lackluster and shelved the project. Of course, multitudes of bootlegs appeared over the years (with extras that do not appear here) and the demand was so overwhelming that they finally relented and released this as both a CD and DVD.

This CD has all of the incidental music, which was merely background music for entrances and interludes, but the actually performances are all pretty stellar. Jethro Tull was an early fave among many British r'n'r groups and here they give a fine, bluesy rendition of "Song for Jeffrey" with none other than Tony Iommi (who was contemplating leaving Black Sabbath) on guitar! The Who's "A Quite One" was deservedly legendary and is one of the best things - musically and visually - that they have ever done - certainly the best take on this number ever. "Ain't That a Lot of Love" by Taj Mahal is similarly one of his finest - a swingin', soulful, insistent groove that can't be matched.

Marianne Faithfull's "Something Better" is a lovely ballad and then Jagger and John Lennon joke around a bit before Lennon performs "Yer Blues" with a super group consisting of Keith Richards on bass, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Eric Clapton on lead guitar! The blues jam that follows is not quite as successful, with a violinist and Yoko joining in, which doesn't really work in this context.

Lennon introduces the Stones segment which begins with a slow version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (not bad, just not very energetic) but the follow-up of the bluesy "Parachute Woman" works a lot better, with some cool piano (Nicky Hopkins), harp and stinging leads by Keith. Brian's slide and Hopkins piano are spot-on in "No Expectations" - highlights of the night, in fact - as is Jones' rhythm on "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (the rest of the guys are actually pretty shaky when they come in, though Mick is entertaining as he flirts with the girls). With the additional percussion, "Sympathy For the Devil" comes off pretty damn well, with Richards giving a damn excellent solo and, although you obviously can't tell on the CD, Jagger gets pretty theatrical, as well. Although exhausted, the finale is "Salt of the Earth", with Mick, the guests and audience singing along to the record's backing track.

Definitely a piece of history and something that should be owned.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Starz - Violation

I believe that Starz came to my attention in the 70's via the standard rock mags and the fact that they were managed by the same people as Kiss and produced by Jack Douglas. Combining members of Looking Glass ("Brady") and Stories ("Brother Louie"), the guys moved into a pop-metal direction and put out several quality records.

This, their second album, opens with a song that apparently was a hit for them (though I don't remember it being played in the Chicago area). "Cherry Baby" is not the Neil Diamond gem, but a cool piece of powerful pop all their own with ringing guitars, leads ranging from clean and melodic to fairly raucous and highly memorable vocals. After this intro, the album moves into a vaguely thematic mode, with songs about a future where rock'n'roll is outlawed but rebels continue to find it and embrace it. "Rock Six Times" is a harder rocker, similar to Aerosmith (down to the solo), which is fitting as they reference "Walk This Way" as a song that a youngster steals from a futuristic thrift shop and inspires him to search out these sounds. The sing-along pop love song "Sing It, Shout It" follows (which doesn't overtly have anything to do with the theme) and then the harder-edged title track does pick up the rebellious tone with the chorus "I want to rock'n'roll - no that's a violation!". The insurgent is captured and threatened with electro-shock therapy - yes, this does get a bit corny at times, but remains catchy throughout. Apparently, "Subway Terror" depicts his escape in a fast-paced hard rocker with some hot lead guitar and then we (or at least I) lose the plot line in the pop-rocker "All Night Long" and the bouncily catchy, lewd "Cool One" about getting a hand job in a movie theater! I guess that was the hero having fun before being caught again in the ominously heavy "Steady" and having his mind blown so badly that he asks "Is That a Street Light or the Moon" in the final ballad.

Not dissimilar to Kiss, though not quite as heavy nor quite as visual (though these guys did have a distinctive look), but fun pop-metal tunes that stand the test of time, despite a but of lyrical silliness.




Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Time Crashers - EP-isode 1: Chronal Displacement (comic and CD-EP)



Local punk rock time travelin' nerds, the Time Crashers have now officially released their debut CD-EP (get it? EPisode? Har har) and what better way to do so than combined with a comic detailing their exploits. I reviewed the music as the Bootleg From the Future previously and the comic, while not referencing their songs (which seems like something that they should do so in the future, if they continue with the comics), it does detail their fight with Thomas Edison, who continues to steal Tesla's (lead singer for the TCs) ideas and claim them as his own. Apparently, members have come and gone through the space/time continuum, as Davy Crockett and D.B. Cooper assist Tesla, Caesar and DiVinci here. The story has many twists'n'turns and a cliff-hangin' ending, so I hope to see more soon!


The Swamp Gospel, Eddy Bear and the Cubs and the Time Crashers at the Double Down Saloon, Saturday June 27, 2015






This is another gig that my band, the Swamp Gospel, arranged and opened for and had a fine time saving souls, drinkin' strychnine, layin' hands and preachin' the blues. Thank you once again to Nikki Ruffing for the cool photos!
















Up next were our pals, Eddy Bear and the Cubs, the honky-tonk combo who I have ranted'n'raved about numerous times before. They ran through a bunch of their best upbeat C&W, from "Little Sister" to "Turn Me On, Turn Me Loose" to "Long Black Cadillac" to "I'm the Bulge in Satan's Pants" to "Ooh Las Vegas". There were some newer numbers, as well, including one stand-out whose name I didn't catch that had an excellent bluesy break highlighted by Wade's slide guitar. As a guitarist, its always a pleasure to hear Wade play, but everyone was in fine form and the vocals harmonies from Erik and Larry were top-notch, as well. Truly a superior group all around and always a treat to watch.

















The time travelin' heroes of punk rock, the Time Crashers, appeared next on this varied bill, entertaining the crowd with their tales of the space/time vortex. Apparently, their second guitarist, Francisco Pizarro, seems to have been lost in the continuum and did not appear this evening. But still Tesla led the remaining gents - Caesar (bass), DeVinci (guitar) and Carl Sagan (drums) - through songs from their EP/CD Chronal Displacement (which I reviewed as the Bootleg From the Future before it was officially released) along with some newer numbers and even bits from Argent's "God Gave Rock'n'Roll To You"! Always a fun time - catch them when you can (next up at the Dive Bar on July 10, reportedly the last show for Caesar before he returns to ancient Rome).

















RIP Billy Borgioli (Real Kids)

Very sad to hear the news of Billy's passing. The Real Kids first album is a true classic punk/garage/pop record that has truly stood the test of time. Billy did much more over the years and is fondly remembered by his Boston brethren.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

recommended gigs

Friday June 26 - Dr. Phobic and his Phobic-Tones at the Double Down

Saturday June 27 - The Swamp Gospel with the Time Crashers and Eddy Bear and the Cubs at the Double Down
Saturday June 27 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Friday July 3 - the Vermin's last show ever at Triple B

Saturday July 4 - the Heiz at the Double Down with the Psyatics

Thursday July 9 - Psyatics at the Dive Bar

Friday July 10 - Tiki Bandits, Time Crashers, Super Zeros and Rude Kings at the Dive Bar

Friday July 10 - the All Togethers at the Bunkhouse
Friday July 10 - Time Crashers and Tiki Bandits at the Dive Bar

Saturday July 11 - the All Togethers at the Dillinger with Thomas Gardner Jr
Saturday July 11 - 3 Bad Jacks, the Legendary Boilermakers, Dead at Midnight at the Dive Bar

Tuesday July 14 - Psyatics at the Bunkhouse with Numb Bats and Pet Tigers

Friday July 17th the Peccadilloes at the Double Down

Sunday July 19 - Unwieldies at UNLV with Roy Zimmerman

Wednesday July 22 - Adolescents and Weirdos at the Triple B

Friday July 24 - The Association, Grass Roots, Buckinghams, Cowsills - Golden Nugget

Sunday August 9 - The Cry at the Bunkhouse

Friday Aug 21 - Motorhead at House of Blues

Saturday August 29 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Dr. Isaiah Ross - Call the Doctor

Subtitled "Breakdowns and Blues by Mississippi One-Man Band", this is a pretty accurate description
of what you're getting here. Ross plays guitar, harmonica and drums and all fairly fluently, given the restrictions of playing all at once! The harmonica is generally the lead instrument, naturally, and there is plenty of energy and bounce to the rhythms, as well.

This is another CD that I just happened upon (I do love brick'n'mortar stores that have an actual blues section!), and I dig it a lot! I got mine at a discount price, so hopefully this is available generally. Ross opens with a vocal version of "Cat Squirrel" (pretty different than Cream's version, but recognizable) that moves into a straight acoustic guitar blues in "Blues & Trouble". There's a novelty number in "Freight Train" where he imitates a train with his harmonica, a take-off on "Rollin'n'Tumblin'" in "Illinois Blues", more guitar-oriented (as opposed to harp-centric) blues in "Hobo Blues", then the harp returns to front'n'center for another novelty number "Mam Blues", where he imitates a conversation with his harmonica. The Doctor performs a foot-stomper in the vein of John Lee Hooker in "My Little Woman" and a boogie with "Dr. Ross' Rock" and another groover with "32-20".

Ross continues with a Sonny Boy Williamson-styled take on "Good Morning Little Girlfriend", showing off his harp playing skills (without any other instruments), then back to his full "ensemble" for "Chicago Breakdown", again reminding me of a John Lee Hooker boogie (and "borrowing" the lyrics to "shake 'em on down"). More up-tempo coolness in "China Blues", a harmonica-driven version of "My Mama Done Told Me (When I Was a Baby)" in "Blues in the Night", another stripped-down foot-tapper in "Going to the River", slower trad in "Drifting Blues", a harp breakdown with "Fox Chase" and finalizing everything with one more rockin' boogie, "Jivin' Blues".

Basic, raw, and relatively minimalistic, but really well-done acoustic blues. Worth looking for!

The Harlem Hamfats – Let’s Get Drunk and Truck

As the liner notes to this CD says, the Hamfats have been overlooked throughout the years, most likely due to the fact that they are not easy to pin down. Their music is a mix of Dixieland jazz, Swing and urban blues, among other sounds. Most likely known now due to guitarist/singer Joe McCoy, one time husband to Memphis Minnie, the band was formed by trumpeter Herb Morand, along with Joe’s brother Charlie on guitar and mandolin, Odell Rand on clarinet, Horace Malcolm on piano, and rhythm section of Pearlis Williams and John Lindsay on drums and stand up bass, respectively.

Initially created as a back up band for Decca’s roster, the group recorded pre-R&B hits of their own with the title track as well as “Oh!Red”. They recorded over 80 sides within 3 years and this collection gives a general overview of their style.

Opening with the bouncing Dixieland swing of “Oh!Red”, you know right away that you’re getting good-time music that kinda mixes Louis Armstrong with Louis Jordan! This continues with “What You Gonna Do?”, the lascivious “Let’s Get Drunk and Truck” (nice boogie piano work by Malcolm), and McCoy’s more traditional “Southern Blues” (fine guitar work, presumably by Joe). “The Garbage Man” (shades of the Cramps!) pre-dates Louis Jordan by several years, but is very similar in style, down to the call’n’response  vocals and swingin’ rhythms. The boogie through “My Daddy Was a Lovin’ Man” and the instrumental “Hamfat Swing” (Hamfat was a slang term for poor players), trading off the horn section and mandolin on the melody and eventually incorporating everyone in this fun dance number. The horns imitate the “Growling Dogs” of the title, and again, everyone gets a chance to work with the melody. An in-joke, “Hallelujah Joe Ain’t Preachin’ No More” is a jab at Joe McCoy, who cut some gospel tracks as Preacher Joe, done with some very Louis Armstrong-styled vocals.  Another instrumental, “Jam Jamboree” (apparently a “jam session”) precedes the pre-rock’n’roll “We Gonna Pitch a Boogie Woogie”. They continue to boogie-woogie in “Tempo Di Bucket”, then slow it down for the bluesy “Black Gal You Better Use Your Head” before finishing up with the infectious melody and rhythms of the oddly named “Root Hog or Die”.


Really fun stuff here – quite enjoyable Dixieland-styled pre-rock’n’roll swing. Dig it!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

recommended gigs

Thursday June 18th catch Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers in The Railhead showroom at Boulder Station Casino 7PM

Friday June 19 - Slaughter and the Dogs at the Dive Bar
Friday June 19 - Super Zeroes at Legends Bar and Grill

Saturday June 20 - the Chicken Shack at the Bunkhouse

Tuesday June 23 - Paul Collins' The Beat with the Astaires at the Bunkhouse

Friday June 26 - Dr. Phobic and his Phobic-Tones at the Double Down

Saturday June 27 - The Swamp Gospel with the Time Crashers and Eddy Bear and the Cubs at the Double Down
Saturday June 27 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Friday July 3 - the Vermin's last show ever at Triple B

Saturday July 4 - the Heiz at the Double Down with the Psyatics

Thursday July 9 - Psyatics at the Dive Bar

Friday July 10 - Tiki Bandits, Time Crashers, Super Zeros and Rude Kings at the Dive Bar

Friday July 10 - the All Togethers at the Bunkhouse
Friday July 10 - Time Crashers and Tiki Bandits at the Dive Bar

Saturday July 11 - the All Togethers at the Dillinger with Thomas Gardner Jr
Saturday July 11 - 3 Bad Jacks, the Legendary Boilermakers, Dead at Midnight at the Dive Bar

Tuesday July 14 - Psyatics at the Bunkhouse

Friday July 17th the Peccadilloes at the Double Down

Sunday July 19 - Unwieldies at UNLV with Roy Zimmerman

Wednesday July 22 - Adolescents and Weirdos at the Triple B

Friday July 24 - The Association, Grass Roots, Buckinghams, Cowsills - Golden Nugget

Sunday August 9 - The Cry at the Bunkhouse

Saturday August 29 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

The Peculiar Pretzelmen - Everything Must Be Broken

Creating an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy with the title of this CD, pretty much everything did
break on the PP's latest tour that brought them through Las Vegas. But, they definitely garnered new fans from the pit stop here and these CDs will be played often throughout the summer.

The Pretzelmen seem to have an aversion to putting CD artwork on either their webpage or Facebook page and I am not near a scanner, so you will have to look up these releases to discover what they really look like!

This one opens with a very stripped down "R.F.B" with its minimalist, melodic banjo and toe-tapping drumming (which builds and expands as the song progresses) continuing their style of modern-day, original songs styled after old-country folk tales. "Alabama Autumn Skies" and "Crazy Man Michael" adds strings to the mix for a nice effect on these ballads. Deacon's percussion comes to the forefront a bit more in "Calliope at the End of the World", an off-kilter, gypsy/circus tune while "10 years time" is an all-too-short, creeping, Woody Guthrie-esque (sorta/kinda) tune aided by various extra instrumentation. The finale, "Mr. Rabbit" is very Tom Waits-ian, sounding like it easily could have been a Rain Dogs outtake. Not a criticism, by any means, but here the influence is plain.

My only complaint with these two CD's are that they are far too short! Hope to hear and see more from this duo soon!

Here's the artwork:

The Peculiar Pretzelmen - Theme Music for the End of Times

After seeing the Pretzelmen at the Huntridge Tavern, I had to pick up the music that they had available. While the live show is a bit more manic'n'noisy, the recorded versions are pretty goddamn excellent, as well.

This release appears to be fairly homemade - plain cardboard sleeve with magic marker writing on it and the CD has a label stuck on it - although the recordings are high quality and sound terrific. Opening with "Nail", their Rain Dogs-era Tom Waitsy sound comes through right away, with Deacon's self-constructed, melodic percussion and Kevin's banjo pickin'n'strummin'. Really fine singing, songwriting and playing here - nice stuff! Their take on Woody Guthrie's "So Long, It's Been Good To Know You" is actually reasonably traditional, sounding almost like Seeger and Guthrie working together as Deacon (?) harmonizes with Kevin's lead vocals and someone joins the banjo with accordion. "Juice" reminds me of a haunting, old-country folk song, in the vein of "In The Pines", without any musical references to that - more of a feel. Light keyboards add a cool touch, as well. This 4 song CD ends with "Mary", a noisy piece of stomp'n'slide, with vibrato'd guitar (?) and ominous, metallic percussion.

Truly a new favorite band - check 'em out any time they come to your town (guess they just finished a tour, but hopefully, they will be traveling again soon) and definitely pick up their music any way you can!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Swank Bastards, the Bitters, the Swamp Gospel, the Gentlemen of Four Outs and Franks & Deans at the Double Down, Friday June 12

When the Swank Bastards mainman, guitarist Jesse Del Quadro, decides to throw a birthday bash for himself, where else would he have it, other than at the Bastards' home-away-from-home, the Happiest Place on Earth, the Double Down Saloon?


x


The Swank Bastards had to open the night, as Jesse planned (and, as best as I could tell, succeeded) in getting far too wasted to play once the night really got underway. Of course, plenty of people were out to cheer and dance to (and dance along with Ivanna Blaze) the Bastards' own brand of sizzlin' surf rock'n'roll, highlighted by Jesse's speedy riffs, Jeff Murphy's rumblin' bass runs and not one, not two, but three of the SB's rockin' drummers: Mark Baertschi, Courtney Carroll and Gerry "Turbo" Proctor! Fun set from the best instro band in town!








Following the Bastards, Jeff moved from bass to guitar to perform a set with the Bitters, his Zappa/ progressive/metal/punk/everything'n'the-kitchen-sink instrumental group. Crazy good players and the audience dug the heck outta them!


I was honored to be asked to play in two different bands, this evening, and the Swamp Gospel was joined by Jesse and his birthday balloon as he  had his demons exorcised during our take on Alex Harvey's "Faith Healer".


(SG photo by Derek Decker)

Then, the Gentlemen of Four Outs received a special guest appearance by a secret member of Franks and Deans, helping drummer Clay Heximer handle his duties (or something).



Franks and Deans followed with a particularly strong'n'tight set of punk rock versions of early rock'n'roll, big band, Rat Pack and various other tunes. They also had an attractive young burlesque lady (sorry that I didn't get her name and sorry that my photos of the band did not turn out) helping out their visuals this evening.


There was more to come after that but it was already far too late and far too many drinks but a successful celebration of one's birth if there ever was one!

The Peculiar Pretzelmen with the Gentlemen of Four Outs - the Huntridge Tavern, Sunday June 14, 2015

The Peculiar Pretzelmen were heading back to their home base of Los Angeles from their Everything Must Be Broken (their latest CD - more on that later) tour and decided to make a stop in Las Vegas to play with their old pal Clay Heximer's Gentlemen of Four Outs at one of Vegas' coolest dives, the Huntridge Tavern. Kevin and Deacon had played with Soda and His Million Piece Band previously, but have branched out on their own and now perform with some different line-ups, but generally tour as a two piece.

Although only a duet, their sound somehow manages to be quite full, as they pick'n'bang'n'thrash'n' crash on various unusual instruments, including a vintage Gibson mandocello (first one I've seen in person and truly cool), a four string banjo made from a 16mm film cartridge (apparently tuned like a guitar) and what I can only describe as a 3-string ukulele, this one made from an 8mm film cartridge! The drum kit consisted of older-model, over-sized bass drum, a "real" cymbal, and various homemade percussion items, ranging from a cowbell with a spring welded to it to pie tins, wrenches, and what I believe was an exhaust pipe and a wheel well, among others! Needless to say, they did not sound like your average band!

Opening with Bobby Bare's tale of the voodoo queen, "Marie Laveau" (a bit more like Girl Trouble's garage/swamp version than Bare's country-ish take), they made good on their self-described "voodoo mayhem stomp rock". They probably get these comparisons more than they would prefer, but the sound was similar to Tom Waits, Soda and even a bit of Jack White, mixed with some gypsy rhythms, although they have their own twists'n'turns and plenty of originality. Most of the set appeared to be originals (or tunes too obscure for me), but the closer was Woody Guthrie's "Dusty Old Dust (So Long, It's Been Good to Know Ya)".

Absolutely one of my favorite new "discoveries" - great tunes, cool visuals, amazing instruments and damn nice guys, too! Check 'em out one way or another!







And yes, I play in the Gentlemen of Four Outs, so I will simply say that we had a fab time playing with the Pretzelmen at the ultra-cool Huntridge Tavern (thank you Kate and Amber!) and hope to do both again soon. Thank you to Nikki Ruffing for the Gents pix!